Despite many positive developments in the last seven years -- including declining rates of teen pregnancy, decreases in crimes against youth, and increases in student achievement and college access -- parents of today's teenagers have expressed significant anxiety about the well being of their children. At the same time, teenagers say they feel alienated from their communities and insecure about the future. To address these concerns, the President and Mrs. Clinton convened the White House Conference on Teenagers: Raising Responsible and Resourceful Youth, on May 2, 2000.
The White House Conference on Teenagers responded to the concerns of parents and teens by focusing attention on ways that families and communities can teach good values, promote healthy behavior, and support positive youth development. Against a backdrop of broader societal changes -- new technology, an increasingly diverse population, and a significant "opportunity gap" for low-income and minority youth -- the Conference brought to light current research on positive youth development, emphasized the importance of substantial investments in youth, and highlighted the Administration's achievements in this area.
Specifically, the Conference:
- Provided a snapshot of today's teenagers, based on the latest statistics;
- Highlighted cutting edge research, including new brain research, about teenagers and their development;
- Acknowledged the challenges and opportunities presented by new technology, the changing workplace, and the increasing diversity of the youth population;
- Presented advice from the nation's leading experts on youth development, offering tools for healthy development to parents and teens; and
- Focused attention on ways that families and communities together can teach good values, promote healthy behavior, and support positive youth development.
The Conference itself was held on the White House grounds, beginning with a morning session in the East Room with the President and Mrs. Clinton, and continuing across the White House complex in breakout sessions moderated by Cabinet Secretaries, Members of Congress and other high-ranking Administration officials. The morning session in the East Room was broadcast live via satellite to allow communities across the country to participate in the event and engage in local dialogue on the topic.
Participants in the Conference, both at the White House and via satellite, included a diverse group of parents, teenagers, policymakers, youth workers, educators, representatives of faith-based organizations, nonprofits, media, business and foundations. Together they represented the wide range of racial, ethnic, economic and religious groups involved in raising America's teenagers.